Since it’s basically the one year anniversary of that time I ran back-to-back Marathons at the San Francisco Marathon, I thought I would take a look back at some things that stand out a year later. Also, this will serve as a guide of some things to expect for those running it for the first time this weekend INCLUDING my main dude: @NYCSweat, who is doing exactly what I did last year in running #RnRCHI half the weekend before taking on SFM’s 52.4 (new tradition?).
I’ll be with him at the start at midnight and showing up throughout the course to be that strange dude cheering on runners at 2 in the morning in the middle of Golden Gate Park. #PaveyAtSFM
Your Saturday night is different from THEIR Saturday night.
Last year I took BART, which is our version of a train/subway system in the Bay Area, and I remember riding it around 10:30pm in my running gear, hydration pack, running shoes and being surrounded by others “going out.” Club gear (do we still call it the club?), people who started drinking before they left, and just being SO out-of-place surrounded by people ready to party on a Saturday night in San Francisco.
That theme continued after the race started at midnight and we were running on the sidewalks past bars that were (obviously) open and their patrons coming up with clever things to say. “Where are you running?” and “I thought the marathon was tomorrow.” You can laugh or come up with things to say like “nope, it’s today!” which is true because at that point it will be 1am on Sunday.
You can’t see anything, including street signs
Don’t get lost. That should be the first rule. You are running in the dark trying to navigate downtown and street signs like to hide behind trees and in dark places. Also, the signs in Golden Gate Park aren’t exactly well lit. Last year there were small packs that formed with those who had similar pace/goal times. It’s really a collective effort and some of the runners will be guides and others will be along for the ride. The SFM crew were at some locations to help guide the runners at confusing parts, but the best advice is to try to stay in a pack or run self-reliant with a turn-by-turn list.
Excuse me, excuse me, I’m running here.
As you approach the start line and you have 25.5 miles in the books, you are coming up on everyone showing up to the start line. Think about the last time you were at the start of a marathon or half. As you are walking to the start, are you expecting to have a runner wearing a head lamp, all sweaty to come running up behind you in a race to get to the start? Nope. You can’t get mad at them, no one is expecting that, but it was something that I remember from last year trying to get back to the start (essentially corral 2) and having to maneuver through runners, porta-potty lines, stretching, etc.
The night marathon is WAY harder than the day marathon
This may be a personal thought, but I found the first 26.2 to be much harder than the actual race. Part of it might just come down to how you run at night. You are staring at a headlamp light running and looking at only a few feet in front of you. When the sun comes up, you can ACTUALLY see the road in front of you and where you need to go, turn, etc. Plus the energy of everyone running 13.1 or 26.2 is so invigorating that you have to try to feed off of it. Don’t get me wrong, at like 40-ish miles I was ready to be done, but the second 26.2 was a completely different experience.
It’s the BEST feeling that lasts forever.
I still get shocked faces when I tell people that I ran back-to-back marathons. Even though it’s only 2 miles more than a 50 mile, there is something about running a marathon BEFORE an official marathon that just sounds WAY cooler. The medal that we got afterwards wasn’t anything fancy, the ULTRA shirt is just a shirt, but the best thing that I took away from running was the story and the experience.
Actually, as I’m writing this, I kind of want to do it again. Not this year of course, but maybe 2016.
Tweeting LIVE: #PaveyAtSFM
As I said, I’ll be out there before midnight to see the ULTRA runners off (including Ultramarathon Man Dean Karnazes) and I’ll be in Golden Gate Park around mile 13/16 to cheer on all the runners. I’ll use the hash #PaveyAtSFM if you are looking to follow along. I’ll be tweeting out updates and hopefully some pics with runners as they pass by like I did in Boston.
Good luck to all the SFM runners this weekend.